Clifford T. Murphy, a nationally renowned bassist and mentor to younger and older musicians alike, passed away on November 27, 2019 after a rapid decline in health following a traffic incident on October 3, 2019.
Clifford was born February 5, 1932. He attended Robinson Jr. High School and Scott High School, then joined the Army at the age of 17. As an infantryman in the Army, Clifford earned 2 Purple Hearts and 3 Bronze stars while serving in the Korean War. Following his time in the service, Clifford bought his first bass and began pursuing his interest in music. Eventually he went on to start a jazz group, “The Murphy’s”, and soon was playing with jazz piano masters such as Johnny O’Neal, Larry Fuller and Claude Black. Clifford and Claude Black performed together from the 1940’s until Claude passed away in 2013.
Clifford (along with long time partner Joan Russell) opened jazz club Murphy’s Place in downtown Toledo Ohio. Murphy’s Place went on to become the premier jazz destination for the area, attracting jazz fans and artists from across the nation.
Clifford, known as “the Gentle Giant”, showed extraordinary strength, resilience and a wonderfully positive spirit and attitude in the intervening years since “Murphy’s Place” closed its doors. He achieved much success in his musical career and his presence in our community is far reaching. He was a true City of Toledo legend and we honor him for his passion, talent, and dedication.
Clifford was proceeded in death by his parents Robert Murphy and Susie Mae Murphy; brothers Robert L. Murphy and Tyrone Murphy; sisters Ophelia Presberry, Dorothy Murchison, and Shirley Murphy.
Clifford leaves to cherish his memory: children Kathleen Blyther of Worcester, MA, Deborah Murphy of Toledo, OH, Jacqueline Williams (Larry) of Worcester, MA, Sherry Hampton (David) of Toledo, OH, Kevin T. Murphy of Fayetteville, NC, special daughters Deborah #2 Franklin of Toledo, OH, Martha Petrovick (Dave) of Barre, MA and special son Willie Russell of Fort Collins, CO; brother James Edward Murphy (Daisy); sister Catherine Houston; 14 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren and 8 great-great-grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, friends and Jazz Lovers.